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London 2012 Olympics

Instant classic: Morgan miracle eliminates Canada

Alex Morgan

An Alex Morgan header in stoppage time of extra time culminated two hours of thrilling soccer at Old Trafford and sent the United States to their fifth consecutive gold medal match, 4-3 over northern rivals Canada. Christine Sinclair put Canada on top three different times, but each time the United States clawed back to level the proceedings. The US will play Japan in Thursday’s gold medal match, a replay of last summer’s World Cup final, won by Japan on penalties.

Sinclair put forth one of the greatest individual performances ever seen in women’s soccer, but she could not keep the ball out of the net on the defensive end. The US scored twice through Megan Rapinoe and again from the spot for Abby Wambach. Sinclair’s hat trick and Wambach’s penalty leave the two greats each with 142 international goals.

It was Rapinoe’s effort though that held the United States in the match. Early in the second half she drilled a corner kick that had eyes for the near post. As Canadian defenders scrambled, one blocking goalkeeper Erin McLeod’s path to the ball, it snuck in to tie the match 1-1.

Rapinoe’s second goal was a thing of beauty. Taking down a ball by the high corner of the area she nailed a shot that crashed the inside of the far post and in, leaving McLeod helpless.

The third equalizer brought with it a bit of controversy. First McLeod was called for holding the ball too long before punting it, giving the US an indirect free kick inside the penalty box. It looked as if the Canadians had cleared it, but a ball glancing off the arm of Marie-Eve Nault prompted a penalty call. Wambach converted it with a well-placed, low kick to McLeod’s right.

The United States gradually took over during the two extra time periods. When Wambach hit the post late in the second extra time it looked like it might be their last chance before penalties. But with three minutes of stoppage time added on, the stars and stripes found one last attack. Heather O’Reilly had space on the right and lofted a cross into the area. Morgan was in traffic but managed to raise above the Canadian defense to score another dramatic US goal.

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